The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today demanded the release of journalist Moussa Kaka who has been jailed for a year over his alleged links with Tuareg rebels in the northern part of the country despite decisions by two judges that the reporter should be released.
"Moussa has paid too much for an offense that there is no evidence he has committed," said Gabriel Baglo. "His contact with the Tuareg rebels was only in his professional capacity as a journalist and posed no danger to anyone. We demand his unconditional release and all the charges against him to be dropped."
Kaka, Niger correspondent of Radio France International (RFI) and director of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya, was arrested on September 20, 2007 and held on charges of endangering the safety of the state for suspected links with Tuareg rebels. He has been held ever since.
On Tuesday the prosecutors asked an appeal court in the capital city Niamey to change the original charge against Kaka to "actions liable to harm national defence at war time" from "complicity to undermine the authority of the state."
If found guilty under this new charge, instead of facing a life sentence as he does with the current charge, he faces up to five years in jail and a fine ranging from 1 to five million Francs CFA (1,500 to 7,500 Euros). The court is due to give its verdict on October 7.
"It is a grave miscarriage of justice that our colleague has spent one year in jail despite the fact that twice the justice system has ordered him released," Baglo said. "With the change in the charges, it is clear that the prosecutors do not have a real case against him."
On July 23 a judge dismissed the case against Kaka but the General Prosecutor appealed the decision and the journalist was kept in detention. It was the second time a judge ordered the release of the journalist.
On November 16, 2007, a magistrate decided not to accept as evidence the tapes of Kaka's conversations with the rebels as they were not obtained legally. The tapes were the only evidence the prosecution had.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 members in 120 countries worldwide